On the other hand, alternatives to incarceration for low-level nonviolent offenses (e.g., mandatory drug and alcohol treatment programs, mandatory mental health programs, education and job training, halfway houses, etc.) are much more cost-effective ways of reducing recidivism and promoting productive citizenship among ex-offenders. They make the rest of us safer. And they cost us less money. Understand?Last time I checked the cost to house a prisoner at Jackson Penitentiary was around $45,000 annually. For that amount you could fund their education at a school like U of M plus do a lot more. That $45K is money that is pretty much flushed down the drain, the only good coming of it is that the criminal is temporarily off the streets. I guess it does help the local economy a bit with a few jobs and such.A lot of hard guys think that simply imposing stiff sentences is the fix for the crime problem. I agree with your points MisterFungi, there are much more effective ways to spend the money. As you astutely point out, most of these inmates are going to get out eventually and have just about zero chance of making a decent life for themselves, hence the very high recidivism rate for former inmates.One additional way I would spend the money is on hiring more police officers, focusing on high crime areas and spending more on courts and law enforcement databases and automation.I still however say that violent offenders, especially repeat violent offenders must be incarcerated pretty much permanently in the name of protecting the public. I am willing to take a chance on lessor offenders but once the threshold is crossed into violent crime, the safety of the general public is the greater concern.
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